3Dconnexion connects you to your art

3Dconexion SpaceMouse next to artwork of a robot
(Image credit: 3Dconexion)

Digital content creation is a rewarding outlet for many artists and designers, whether professionals or hobbyists. Creating imagery and animation from the imagination can be fulfilling and inspiring. 

The perennial problem is that creating digital content requires many specialist apps, many of which need manipulation in a 3D space. The user needs to memorise complicated hotkeys using a keyboard or mouse, which can be unintuitive, or many use a drawing tablet that is made, well, for drawing, not moving 3D objects. 

These issues are compounded by the fact that every 3D app seems to have its own way of doing things, making developing muscle memory challenging and therefore creating barriers to creativity. 

However, there is an answer: a hardware device that makes navigating and switching between applications an intuitive joy. That answer is the SpaceMouse range of products from 3Dconnexion. 

person using SpaceMouse on desk

(Image credit: 3Dconnexion)

A SpaceMouse in its purest form (either the SpaceMouse Compact or the SpaceMouse Wireless) looks not unlike a tall, glowing hockey puck. Still, this simple exterior hides an incredibly sophisticated six-axis controller that, when manipulated by the artist, can take control of a 3D viewport and allow the manipulation of the scene, object or viewport with subtle movements of the wrist. 

There’s nothing like moving inside a scene or around an object with a SpaceMouse. The combination of refinement of the materials used on the device and the stability of the 3Dconnexion 3DxWare software means that when using a SpaceMouse, interacting with objects is graceful and intuitive, exactly matching users’ intentions. The SpaceMouse is such a good-looking and futuristic piece of engineering it was used as a flight stick for the Rocinante spaceship in The Expanse.

It isn’t just 3D applications that benefit from the SpaceMouse; it can work with 2D applications such as Adobe Photoshop, where it can be used to scroll, pan and zoom on an image. A SpaceMouse also works with OS windows and is a relaxing way to scroll down lengthy web pages. 

The relaxation aspect of using a SpaceMouse also aids in a better posture, whether at a sitting or standing desk, meaning better ergonomics while working and less stress and fatigue, which can lead to recurring problems such as RSI. 3Dconnexion also offers a range of dedicated 2D mice as part of their CadMouse series that are an excellent accompaniment to a SpaceMouse.

SpaceMouse by computer

(Image credit: 3Dconnexion)

 Learning to use a SpaceMouse 3D controller can be counter-intuitive to new users used to more traditional input methods such as a mouse and keyboard. Thankfully, the 3DxWare driver software includes a range of tools to ensure the SpaceMouse is calibrated, and tutorials that will help new users quickly get up to speed with manipulating objects and views. 

Not all 3D software is made the same, so inputs and hotkeys can vary between the applications. In addition to the pre-set command profiles for each application, a SpaceMouse can be adapted via the 3DxWare software on an application-byapplication basis, including sophisticated and bespoke Macro key combinations for power users, which can be pushed to the next level with the SpaceMouse Pro and SpaceMouse Enterprise. 

The SpaceMouse 3D controller can also reassign its inputs so that pushing forward tilts the view or object rather than moving it forward in 3D space. Having this range of customisation within the software means that the SpaceMouse is a tool that grows with the user, rather than a device that becomes limiting. 

With over 200 applications being supported by 3DxWare on Windows and macOS, a SpaceMouse will help with any content creation workflow. New software is integrated all the time with the regular 3DxWare updates, and recently Unreal Engine, Unity, Maxon Cinema 4D, Substance 3D Painter, Maxon ZBrush, and iClone have all been given support. 

As 3D software becomes more powerful, it needs a device that can harness the software’s power with the artist’s creativity. There is no better tool than a SpaceMouse to make 3D applications become alive.

How to choose the right SpaceMouse for you

There are three distinct models of 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse to choose from, to suit any budget. Below we explore the different types:

SpaceMouse Compact

SpaceMouse by 3Dconexion product shot - round mouse on a white background

(Image credit: 3Dconnexion)

The SpaceMouse Compact is the SpaceMouse in its purest form and starts at £126/€139/$149 and offers the six-axis DOF controller, two programmable buttons and wired USB connectivity. 

SpaceMouse Wireless

SpaceMouse

(Image credit: 3Dconnexion)

The SpaceMouse Wireless (£144/€159/$169) provides the same as the SpaceMouse Compact. It also adds excellent wireless connectivity, making it the ultimate portable SpaceMouse for travel or presentation reviews. 

SpaceMouse Pro and SpaceMouse Pro Wireless

SpaceMouse

(Image credit: 3Dconnexion)

The SpaceMouse Pro (£268/€299/$299 – above) and the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless (£295/€329/$329 – below) have a much larger and more ergonomic base for extra comfort coupled with 15 buttons and switches, enabling many keyboard functions to be handed over to the SpaceMouse Pro, as well as the ability to create custom Macros adapted to the software being used. 

SpaceMouse

(Image credit: 3Dconnexion)

SpaceMouse Enterprise

SpaceMouse

(Image credit: 3Dconnexion)

For the ultimate SpaceMouse experience, the SpaceMouse Enterprise (£358/€399/$399) offers everything the SpaceMouse Pro provides. It adds extra dedicated buttons that work with the in-built LCD screen to create a nearly infinite number of commands and Macro opportunities, making the SpaceMouse Enterprise adaptable to practically any creative or design workflow. 

Digital content creator Mike Griggs' experience with SpaceMouse

a hand using SpaceMouse Enterprise

(Image credit: 3Dconnexion)

As an artist who has been using a SpaceMouse throughout my career, it’s a device that I miss when it’s not available on a computer. Having a SpaceMouse that complements my 3D (and 2D) workflows has been a boon for my productivity in my work, switching between 3D apps such as Maxon Cinema 4D, in which I use the SpaceMouse for navigation and setting camera views, and Adobe Photoshop, where the SpaceMouse is the perfect way to move around and in high-resolution imagery. I can then scroll through my team’s Slack chats and research web pages, all with a degree of comfort and precision not offered by other input devices. 

As 3D software becomes more powerful, it needs a device that can harness the software’s power with the artist’s creativity. There is no better tool than a SpaceMouse to make 3D applications become alive. 

Get 10% off at 3dconnexion.com/shop with the code 3DWORLD2023. Webshop operated in selected countries, and discount offered where available.

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3D World staff
3D World is the best-selling international magazine for 3D artists, covering the fields of animation, VFX, games, illustration and architecture.